How to Cross the Brazil Paraguay Border by Land

Learn how easy it is to cross the Brazil Paraguay border by land. You can even make it a day trip or a shopping run. Read on for details.

Iguazu falls at sunset on the border of Brazil and Paraguay

At the meeting point of three South American nations lies a world-class destination: Iguazu Falls. This massive cascade is a natural gem that draws tourists from around the world. Just a few kilometers away lies the Brazil-Paraguay border, where tourists and locals cross the bridge daily for cheap prices on a wide range of goods. 

If you’re visiting Iguazu Falls and looking for deep discounts—or another stamp in your passport—we’ve got the rundown on the simple process of crossing the land border between these two countries.

Important Disclaimer: Though every effort has been made to provide the most current and up-to-date information, please keep in mind that international border crossings and their entry and exit requirements are subject to change. Political factors, natural disasters and global influences can affect a nation’s borders with little warning. Be sure to check with your country’s embassy—and that of your destination country before you leave for your trip.

How to cross the Brazil Paraguay border

Brazil Paraguay border map

Crossing the Paraguay Brazil Border essentially involves two steps: 

  1. Get to the border, marked by the massive Friendship Bridge
  2. Go through customs

How to get to the border

Brazil Paraguay friendship bridge

There are three primary methods of arriving at the Brazil-Paraguay border—by taxi, bus or on foot. 

1. By Taxi

Taxis will be your most expensive option. Given the traffic and pervasive heat, ensure your cab has sufficient air-conditioning. 

The upside of renting a taxi is the freedom to duck in and out of customs with the option of having the driver wait (usually for a little bit extra)—something not usually possible if you take a bus. 

You also have the added benefit of arriving at immigration without being drenched in sweat.

Pro tip: Ride-sharing vehicles like Uber cannot cross the border.

2. By Bus

There is frequent bus service between the cities of Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. Local buses cost about $1 and will display the destination at the front.

The majority of people making their way from Brazil to Paraguay are there to seek discounted goods in the markets of Ciudad del Este, which are either illegal or heavily taxed in their own country. 

There is no daily limit on the number of those crossing. And just about nobody (but you) will stop at the Paraguay border for a passport stamp.

Given this heavy influx of foreigners, buses won’t even stop at immigration unless you ask in advance. Most visit for the day and aren’t even checked at the border. 

To be on the safe side, ask to be let out in advance, sit near the front and don’t expect the bus to wait for you as you run in to get your passport stamped like a good traveler. Since few people even bother, your wait time should be 5 minutes or less!

3. On Foot

Obviously, hoofing it across the border on foot is the most economical way of arriving at the border, even if you’re likely to be a sweaty mess by the time you get there. 

However, there is an upside. 

As you cross the mighty Friendship Bridge, you’ll be treated to great views of the muddy brown Paraná River that separates the two countries. You might even catch a glimpse of the spray of the falls downstream.

Pro tip: There are pedestrian walkways on each side of the bridge, with no way to switch sides once you’re on the bridge. So, take a peek in advance as to which side has more shade. It’ll make your stroll a little more comfortable.

In all, it’s about a ten-minute walk across the bridge from Brazil to Paraguay or vice versa.

Once on the Paraguayan side, it’s time to check in with officials and get that stamp.

Getting through customs at the Brazil Paraguay border

Iguazu Falls border Brazil Paraguay

If you are coming from Brazil, the customs office should be on your right, and by all accounts, you should be in and out in just a few minutes. 

No need for visas, payment, proof of a return ticket or anything else that might slow you down. 

You are now free to shop til you drop or visit other local attractions accessible from the Paraguayan side of the border.

Crossing the border from Paraguay to Brazil

Integration bridge on border of Brazil and Paraguay

When it’s time to return to Foz do Iguacu—or if you started your travels in Paraguay—you’ll find the Brazilian immigration office on the right-hand side before you cross the bridge. 

Once again, you should be in and out in just a few minutes, as most people don’t even stop before heading across the bridge.

What do I need to cross the border?

Brazil flag

Below is a rundown of what you’ll need. As you’ll see, there’s nothing out of the ordinary to provide.

Passport 

Despite many locals who make these crossings without stopping at border control, you should still go through the ritual of having your passport stamped. Make sure you have at least one full page available for your entry or exit stamp. 

Pro tip: It is always a good idea to have at least six months of validity on your passport when traveling internationally. Some countries are sticklers about it, and others don’t even care.

Departure tax

Given Ciudad del Este’s function as a discount shopping destination, no fees are collected on either side of the border. This facilitates the steady stream of shoppers looking for deals on electronics and other goods.

If you’re departing Paraguay by air, you will pay a departure tax, which is usually included in your ticket price. Check with your carrier for more information.

Proof of exit

There is no proof of exit needed when leaving either Brazil or Paraguay.

Proof of onward travel

Neither Brazilian nor Paraguayan officials will require visitors to provide proof of onward travel.

Cash

Paraguay money

Having cash in small denominations is not required. However, it helps for small purchases on either side of the border.

In Brazil, they use reis (pronounced Hay-ICE) as currency, and in Paraguay, the local money is the guarani.

You’re best off getting the local currency via an ATM, but fortunately, both currencies are generally accepted along the border region.

Proof of economic stability

There are no requirements to show proof of economic stability in either country—especially at this land border.

Visa

If you want to stay less than 90 days, a visa is not required for citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, and Australia.

Entry Fee

Neither country requires an entry fee.  

Safety Tips

While there are no severe safety or security concerns for visiting these regions of Brazil and Paraguay, there is a heightened need to be alert to your surroundings and mindful of your belongings — especially on the Paraguayan side.

Petty theft is possible in both border towns, especially in Ciudad del Este. Don’t be surprised if you see an armed guard standing outside a shop or supermarket. Unfortunately, the area is a major center for counterfeit goods and other illegal trafficking, so you’re best off sticking to the shopping venues and not venturing far beyond the heavily visited areas.

COVID-19 Restrictions

There are no vaccination or COVID-19 requirements to enter Brazil or Paraguay. 

What to see when visiting Foz do Iguacu?

border of Brazil and Paraguay IguazuFalls

The primary reason to visit Foz do Iguacu is its namesake waterfall, considered one of the three most extraordinary cascades on the planet (along with Niagara and Victoria Falls), and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This majestic horseshoe-shaped waterfall is about 80 meters (262 feet) tall with a diameter of approximately 2700 meters (8,858 feet)! 

Guests can experience the grandeur of the falls from both the Brazil and Argentina sides while also taking in the lush subtropical rainforest that makes up the national park in which it resides. If you’re fortunate, you can spot such indigenous creatures as caymans, ocelots and perhaps even an elusive jaguar.

Why visit Ciudad del Este?

Itaipu Dam Ciudad del Este Paraguay

The steady throngs of daily visitors to Ciudad del Este are there for one reason and one reason alone: shopping. Of particular interest are deals on electronics. 

You will find the roadways lined with vendors upon vendors, offering all sorts of goods at a fraction of the price to be found in nearby Brazil and Argentina. Bear in mind that the frenzy of people and traffic might border on overwhelming to some.

Two attractions worth checking out are Itaipu Dam and Saltos del Monday or Monday Falls. 

Fans of engineering won’t want to miss the Itaipu Dam, considered a modern marvel largely due to its immense size. Spanning the breadth of the Paraná River, this is one of the largest hydroelectric plants in the world.

Though you might be a little jaded after you visit Iguazu Falls, Monday Falls are still impressive in their own right. Additionally, it’s an easy half-day jaunt from Foz do Iguacu or a ferry ride from Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side. This roaring waterfall is surrounded by jungle and isn’t on the radar of most tourists to the area, so you’ll get to admire it in peace.

Of course, many travelers stop in to visit because it’s hard to resist ticking off another country, not so much for the bargains. Even if Ciudad del Este isn’t an attractive or representative example of the rest of Paraguay, it still counts as a visit for the traveler who’s keeping score.

What else is there to see in the area?

tri border sign of Brazil Argentina and Paraguay

Since this is the tri-border region, you’ll likely want to stop in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side of the border as well.

A visit here will offer you a different vantage point of Iguazu Falls. A host of tour operators can take you on boat and rafting tours that will pump you full of adrenaline while simultaneously taking your breath away.

Map of the Brazil-Paraguay border 

Take a look at this map. You’ll see how close everything is and might even want to tackle all three sides in one day!  

Getting around in Brazil and Paraguay

flag of Paraguay

Getting around in Brazil and Paraguay is not without its challenges. 

Infrastructure and transportation options can be limited in some regions of both countries.

Fortunately, Foz do Iguacu and Ciudad del Este are well-connected, with many transportation options. 

A local bus from one of the main stations will cost approximately $1, and taxis are plentiful, yet more expensive for those traveling on a budget.

For a more convenient and luxurious option, private shuttles also run between Foz do Iguacu and Ciudad del Este and can save you some hassle and sweat by picking you up either at your hotel or the airport.

Reputable operators include Cuenca del Plata and JNL Tourismo.

And, of course, if you’re staying in the city and want to stretch your budget, walking will also get you there.

Final thoughts on crossing the Brazil Paraguay border

City on Paraguay Brazil border

Iguazu Falls is a bucket list destination that will bring you to this gorgeous region bordered by three nations. 

Whether it’s the allure of discount shopping, attractions both man-made and natural, or just the urge to get another stamp in your passport, chances are you’ll consider crossing the Brazil-Paraguay border at some point during your trip. 

Armed with the information above, you can see just how simple it is to cross. So hop on over for any reason and check off another country on your list.

If you’re ready to keep traveling, find out how to cross from Brazil into ArgentinaArgentina into Uruguay, or Brazil into Bolivia.

FAQ

How much should I expect to pay when crossing the border? 

You shouldn’t expect to pay anything to enter or depart either Brazil or Paraguay. Your only expense will be your choice of transportation and whatever purchases you make on your trip to Ciudad del Este.

Is there a minimum stay?

There is no minimum stay for either Brazil or Paraguay. In fact, the overwhelming majority of those passing through are visiting on a day trip.

Do I need return tickets (proof of exit)? 

To enter Brazil or Paraguay at this crossing, you are not required to provide proof of exit or evidence of onward travel. Just have your passport available to be stamped.

Is it easy and hassle-free to cross the Brazil – Paraguay border?

In terms of time, documentation and hassle, this has to be one of the simplest border crossings in the world. Make it a point to check in with officials on each side (unlike the majority of locals who pass through), and you’re all set!

Posted October 10, 2023
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Ben Pastore
Ben is a freelance travel writer, public speaker and graphic artist whose adventures to date have brought him to 78 countries across all 7 continents. He is the author of the witty travel ebook You Can Keep Your Adventure Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper, and a host of travel articles detailing his journeys. When not gallivanting across the globe, Ben spends his time as a volunteer minister along with his wife in Houston, TX, USA.
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